Saturday, January 19, 2013

Don't feel like writing much in this opening schpiel. Had a pretty rough week of it, and going on about how I can't stand a vast majority of people on this planet because of various racial, religious, sexual, political, social and hygienic reasons really would be futile. I might feel a bit more chipper next go 'round, but right now I just can't muster up raising a smile or even a fine how-dy'a-do. There just ain't much to smile about at this moment other'n over a bevy of received releases both old and new (see below) and the fact that I at least have a day off this Sunday to sorta ruminate and get my head together enough to face the ravages of yet another work week.

Well, if ya must know there's one thing outta many that's really getting me down inna dumps and that's the current situation regarding none other'n former Dr. Feelgood guitarist Wilko Johnson. Turns out that the guy, still a young 65 if you can believe it, is unfortunately suffering from pancreatic cancer which as we all know is like instant death certificate. However, instead of doing what many would by getting chemotherapy for his problems, Johnson is choosing to go out of life in a grand fashion by undergoing a farewell tour to end 'em all consisting of four British dates. I guess this constitutes his own special way of saying sayonara to his long-time fans who've been in on the game ever since the mid-seventies when DOWN BY THE JETTY became one of those bubbling under pub rock platters that even impressed the import bin people over here, especially considering that none other than Russell Desmond of CAN'T BUY A THRILL fame raved on about it in the first issue of his seminal fanzine which I hope all of you readers are familiar with given the wealth of information these self-produced reads continue to exude.

Y'know, something along the lines of seeing my fave entertainers passing on really never did get my emotions a 'roarin' so much when I was younger, but now that I'm closer to the the old boneyard than I was as a spoiled brat suburban pimplefarm the image of the Grim Creeper keeps rippin' and tearin' at me a whole lot more than it used. And even though I'm not exactly what'cha'd call a huge fan of the Feelgoods (with only the aforementioned JETTY as well as their "Roxette" single to my name) it ain't like I'm gonna deny their power or put down the latterday recordings which I don't think filled the bill as much as the Wilko-period act did. (And frankly I didn't even care for the Wilko Johnson Solid Senders platter which is why it ended up in a "sell"-pile headed straight for Record Revolution in Cle. Hts.) But digressions aside, who could deny that these guys were the first "real" British punk rock act (mid-seventies division) to come outta the place and the template for the original Stiff Records credo, not to mention groundbreakers for a good hunk of the better sounds to have emanated from England for quite some time. The Feelgoods were even getting called punks in CREEM as early as '75 and besides that, when they made their En Why See debut at Max's Kansas City the following year none other than the Ramones opened for 'em perhaps because even at this early stage in the game it was recognized that punks were punks wuz punx. And this was before it became pUnquE and by that time who could deny a whole lotta the energy and passion was gone?

Here are the Feelgoods on THE OLD GREY WHISTLE TEST March '75 romping through selections from that much-desired debut album which should go to prove the power and might of Johnson's guitar prowess even though Cyril Jordan from the Flamin' Groovies thought he couldn't play worth shit.

OK, on to something I hope will be a little happier for us all, mainly the reviews! I'll tell ya, if it weren't for Bill Shute and ebay this blog would probably consist of me reviewing the same top ten beddy-bye spins that have been soothing my savage boobies over and over again for the last ten years, and I must say that I really do appreciate the parcels he's been sending (if only because I have the negatives) because otherwise I'd starve to death! I'll tell ya, between him, Forced Exposure and ebay I don't know how I would survive hearing new and interesting things (free stuff off the computer does help, but since mine takes about ten hours to download something that used to take five minutes it ain't like I'm gonna be hearing Beethoven's First Bowel Movement without many an interruption!), and as you can tell I am forever grateful to Bill as well as Paul, Steven and PD which really must prove what a mooching nogoodski I can be when finances fail!

But enough typetripe...I at least managed to get one new goodie in this week which, judging from the fact that I did not give it a measly CREEM "Rock-A-Rama"-length examination, ultimately proves that it's in the running for a top-notch "Best Of" mention once '13 clocks out into the hopefully more lucky year of '14! Come to think of it, the other ones aren't anything to sneeze at either not counting that turdburger that I tacked on at the end. Anyway settle back 'n enjoy, and if you by any chance do not agree with me you know who you can make your feelings known to, and when you talk to 'em tell 'em I said their mothers collectively blow doggie wads!

Mars-REHEARSAL TAPES AND ALT-TAKES NYC 1976-1978 3-cassette set (Anomia, Spain)

In what is undoubtedly the first major archival dig of the year, this triple cassette threat might not be the last word in either the Mars or the no wave saga but it sure comes in handy gettin' to the bottom of it all. Especially if you've been in on the game ever since that copy of NO NEW YORK hit the bins at the local record shop and you bought it just because Eno's name was plastered on the cover thinkin' this was gonna be anudder 801-styled post-Roxy Music affair!

Really, I am surprised that this even made it outta the dusty collection of former Mars bassist Marc Cunningham since well, it ain't like Mars are considered showbizzy rock music (TM) legends with a back catalog that can really reap in the big bux! But Marc actually felt it worthwhile to sweep through his boxes of moldering tapes, and he sure did a pretty hefty job of takin' what was salvageable and cleaning it up (more or less) for fan-based consumption.

Tape #1 features Mars, the early years, with the first side consisting of nothing but early rehearsals dating back to the summer of 1976. At this early stage in the game Mars guitarist Sumner Crane was sitting in at the piano and spending his time playing it in a particularly John Cale ca. THE VELVET UNDERGROUND AND NICO pounding style with those heavy repeato-riff chords straight outta the "Waiting For My Man" learn-to-play book vol. two. Needless to say anybody who likes Cale's performance on that instro during the 1966 days'll appreciate this to the utmost as he weaves in and out of various patterns and notes in a fashion  that would've done Terry Riley proud. Some interesting surprises (like the cover of "Pale Blue Eyes" more or less) including the appearance of future Contortions Jody Harris on one track, this during the period in time when he was also fronting the r&b group the Screws who were gettin' loads of local stage time headlining shows for acts as wholesome and mainstream as...Wayne County???

Flipster's got some surprising early China-unto-Mars rehearsal trackage that was recorded right when the group made their grand name change because Elton John had produced an act called China over there in dental nightmare land and two groups with the same moniker weren't big enough in the town for both of us. Surprisingly enough, only a trace of the no wave deconstruction that the group was famous for could be heard at this time with song structures rather sturdy and way closer to the likes of the Ramones than say, Teenage Jesus. If you've heard those rather early Television recordings from '74 when that aggro'd go from crunchy garage rock into atonal flange you'd pretty know what to expect on these (gosh I hate to admit it but) exhilarating tracks which do exemplify that whole underground hotcha buzz that would ultimately be reduced to shallow imitation once it gained a huge audience and the "anybody can do it" credo suddenly translated into "PLEASE, STOP THAT MEWLING MUSIC FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!!"

Tape #2 sees the birth of Mars heading deeper into the no wave, with some December '77 laydowns that must've come from the session that produced the early "11,000 Volts"/"3E" single. Gotta admit that the act had "advanced" from their previous mid-year recordings to the point where you could tell that the noise way was gonna be the only way for 'em, and although there is still a semblance of melody and solidity here it's kinda futile believing that there would be any future in it for Mars. Of course by side two your fears are founded with the presentation of some NO NEW YORK outtakes which present some rather different renditions of the by-now familiar inclusions, including a version of "Puerto Rican Ghost" with nothing but vocals and drums (and I believe bass guitar as well, though Cunningham's notes don't mention it)!

The final cassette features Mars in their death throes during the period that produced the posthumous NN END recording for Lust/Unlust. By now it seems as if any vestigial musical shards have been discarded making for a nice blare of a ride through the realm of screech. If anything the entire no wave movement seemed so cataclysmic (and perhaps remained so, at least until the original acts broke up and what crawled from the wreckage seemed just as art rock as the rest of the post-seventies generation) so it ain't no surprise to me that Mars would destruct in an self-immolating explosion of sound. Come to think of it, the punk nova of the late-seventies did help signal the end of the entire sixties/seventies bared-wire intensity line which is undoubtedly why the music that came out in its wake sounded so pallid. After this tape runs out I'm sure even heard-it-all-before jaded types like ourselves will think that nothing possible coulda followed this act, and as history as proven we've been more right than wrong most of the time so why should this 'un be any different?

One-a-those records I remember seeing repeatedly whilst prowling through the bins of the local shops as a teenbo, but never in a millyun years did I ever think I would actually get to OWN a copy! Here's Kim Fowley during his glambisexual period putting out a record that I woulda sworn was gonna sound like a cross between David Bowie and the New York Dolls but reminds me more of Elliot Murphy's suburban slide. It does hold up well as a '72 deca-glitter artyfact, and if you liked Murphy's Dylanesque trips through the dingier side of midclass Ameriga ca. 1972 this might appeal to you as well. Also noted for featuring an early Modern Lovers mention which, along with various namedrops in ROLLING STONE and CREEM among other prozines not forgetting Eno's "The Third Wheel,"  had kidz like me wondering "wha'?" before the actual platter finally made its way out a good three years after the fact.
Archie Shepp-ROUND ABOUT MIDNIGHT: LIVE AT THE TOTEM VOL. 2 CD-R burn (originally on Marge Records, France)

Shepp had come a long way since those days of FIRE MUSIC and POEM FOR MALCOLM, but even a disdainer of straighter jazz forms such as myself can find this live set pleasing enough. A return to more Ellingtonian ground here, though some new thing remnants can be heard on the 27 + minute "Blues for Brother George Jackson." Can't really complain about it even if Shepp's playing sounds rather thin next to the guttural attack of his sixties output.
Fossils-BELLS AND GULLS CD-R (Kendra Steiner Editions, see link up on left)

Doo wah classic of the week! The Hamilton Ontario duo Fossils (Daniel Fair and David Payne) create their own special spin of free sound and then proceed to take the already beyond-comprehension stylings and decompose 'em even further! So flipped out in a Cromagnon with touches of NEU! 2 way that most similar-minded bouts of moderne-day experimentalism (including a good chunk of the Kendra Steiner Editions catalog!) sound rather timid in comparison. And the best thing about it is that when you listen to it, you don't need to smoke anything!
William Hooker and Sabir Mateen-DHARMA CD-R (Limited edition of 250 copies, part of the KMB Jazz CD-R Series which can be downloaded via CD Baby)

William "I'll Play With Anybody" Hooker does pretty right by latching onto this live sesh with the underrated Sabir Mateen handling the saxophones, flute and clarinet. Pretty powerful duo setting here reminiscent of not only that all-time winner INTERSTELLAR SPACE but the Rashied Ali/Frank Lowe bubbler under DUO EXCHANGE which shoulda been on your Christmas Want List since at least 1976. Mateen's in extremely fine form here (it's like nobody told him that free play was "out" and Wynton Marsalis was "in"!) and Hooker's sheer wall of percussion gets your mind off of the fact that a lotta wonks out there who don't quite settle with you like his playing. Recorded at the CBGB Lounge during the Dee Pop curated free music series, this one does bring back happy memories of dialing in various cybercasts with the same wonderment some rural farm types would try to get hillbilly music in from a distant station way back inna mid-twenties.

And now for the bummer of the week, this download that I sure had high hopes for given the group's love for a metallic/punk/70s fusion jazz amalgam that I must admit sounded a whole lot tastier'n the Creed-y sputum they do deliver. Way over in the '90s grunge arena w/o even that shard of primal rockist supremacy we thought we were hearing in all of those Sub Pop platters. An overall embarrassment to the entire genre which very well might have killed me in my tracks had I not been reading THE AESTHETICS OF ROCK at that very same nanosecond.
Oooh, have I gotta good 'un for you coming up! You better believe it man! (Yeah, right!)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

did the sumner crane solo album ever come out?